Address the madness that’s child prostitution
That girls as young as 12 are engaging in prostitution in parts of the county should serve as a deafening wake up call to Nairobi residents and leaders.
It should compel us to question the moral direction our county is taking.
But things should not just end with the questioning. Tough measures must be put in place and existing legal machinery activated to uproot this vice.
Surveys and interviews with social workers and concerned individuals pinpoint Korogocho as an area notorious for child sex.
However, as all slums share similar demographic characteristics with grinding poverty being the main cause of desperate measures among young and old alike, it implies child sex and prostitution could be rampant in other slums and neighbourhoods.
Owners of chang’aa dens out to lure more patrons hire underage girls not only to serve as waitresses but also to satisfy the cravings of men old enough be their fathers and even grandfathers.
The bar owners then demonstrate the depths of their depravity by demanding a slice of the earnings these children get from selling their bodies. One thing for sure is that these children do not engage in this behaviour of their own volition.
In all likelihood, they are either orphans or come from broken families and therefore lack the basic needs of life – food, shelter and clothing.
The cruel circumstances in which they find themselves at this tender age lower their moral thresholds and make engagement in prostitution an inevitable attraction.
This need not be the case. These young girls belong not in bars but in schools where they can find the knowledge and skills to guarantee them an honest livelihood.
For the errant bar owners, the law is clear. The Penal Code expressly prohibits prostitution and anybody found guilty of living from sex work faces tough penalties.
The Children’s Act too goes to great lengths to protect children from exploitation. In particular, Section 15 protects them from sexual exploitation, prostitution, any inducement or coercion to engage in sexual activity and exposure to obscene material.
This is where the authorities come in. Both the police and the National Authority Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse must carry out impromptu visits to these premises to find out if their operations comply with the law.
Those found in violation must be punished as severely as the law allows.